Thursday, 31 March 2016

Thea: Zmey

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While en route to the cosmic seed, the Wolf Pack has a run in with some wild boars and due to carelessness, Braxwolf Storm follows in the footsteps of Robert Baratheon and meets his end. Hoping to leverage strength of numbers, Cooper Team combines forces with the Wolf Pack and reach the location the compass points to, the stump of the old cosmic tree, around which is a great serpent named Zmey. As a creature of chaos, he simply doesn't want balance of any sort to be restored.

Even comes with a Save First warning.

They try convincing Zmey to simply leave, but this fails and the snake becomes bigger and starts shooting ghosts out of its mouth(?), killing Schulz Wenzel, Darth Targetter and Heather Bee. In a rage the rest of the squad charges into combat but they are soundly defeated, with Zmey devouring Wolfy Eyes, Atheren and Ald Firstshot and laughing at the remaining survivors who made a hasty retreat back to Hermit's Lake.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Thea: Magic Compass

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While on patrol, Cooper Team runs into a Bugay - another form of tree demon. This one is walking around happily eating people so there's no recourse but to kill the damn thing.

So either we kill it, or we kill it. Good choice options there game!

One of the Bugay's allies, a Pine Cone demon claims innocence after the combat and purely because of how the Wolf Pack was saved from the Leshy by one, Cooper decides to spare the creature and it joins his party as "Pineconette". I guess it's a girl? Soon after, Cooper Team meets up with the Wolf Pack who give them the cosmic shards to take to Alisyr. The plan is for the smaller force of Cooper team to make the run while the Wolf Pack covers them from the multiple abomination army lairs that seem to be springing up.

On the way Cooper Team finds a force field protected tree and attempt to break the spell but fail, earning instead a curse upon Cooper and Atheren. Regardless, they make it to Alisyr who constructs a magic compass from the shards which then point to the next location: the cosmic seed. Alysir is still too weak to actually help out, so it's up to Cooper Team and the Wolf Pack, who are having a successful run of assassinating undead abominations, to go check it out.

Back at Hermit's Lake, a crazy religious nut joins the village: Vayshen Panda.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Thea: Tears of Peace

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Within the ruined city, the Wolf Pack found the shards of the Cosmic Tree and its mandatory guardian dragon, who refreshingly wasn't really very hostile and was happy to talk. Alas while whatever spell that bound him to his duty had long been broken, he is a beast of his word and refuses to let the team have the Cosmic Shards. Unwilling to risk head on combat, the Wolf Pack just wait until it goes back to sleep and simply steals the shards from it.

This results in the dragon weeping, and me feeling really bad for it.

As soon as they get out of there a band of humanoids led by an orc witch approaches them for a conversation, and Wolfy notes that Thurazz, an orc they once saved, is in the group. Apparently they want the Cosmic Seed to just be protected but never planted. By my understanding if the seed dies then that's the end of all fantasy type critters. If the seed is planted and the light returns, the creatures of "good" will eventually come hunt them. They want it just as it is now to live in peace.

My fresh scars and the skulls on my staff just scream "peace".

Wolfy diplomatically gets out of deciding now, and will simply consider their proposal once the seed is in hand. The humanoids agree to this and wander off.

Thea: Leshy Leshy

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

To save time in exploring, a new expedition named "Cooper Team" is sent out to the second location. This group, composed of Schulz Wenzel, Atheren, Ald Firstshot and led by Cooper Mantly find themselves confronting a Leshy: a type of tree demon, one that wants them to slay his brother in exchange for an elf he is keeping hostage. An elf who might know how to cure the Cosmic Tree.

At least the owl doesn't seem bothered by it.

While Cooper Team handles the sudden rampant undead in the region, It's the Wolf Pack that locates the Leshy's happier brother whose grove is teeming with life, unlike the wastes the first one was living in. They agree to try fool Leshy #1 but this attempt fails and they are forced into combat and are soundly beaten by the living tree. Fortunately a plot device demon in the shape of a pinecone secretly traveled with them and sacrificing itself, slays the evil Leshy before any of the team perish.

With it gone, Alysir the elf captive is rescued. The weakened elf tasks tells them that a seed of the Cosmic Tree yet lives and tasks them with retrieving cosmic shards that will help point to its location. Of course, Alysir himself isn't coming with them - he's going someplace to recover. Clever elf, he forgot to mention the shards were guarded by a dragon...

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Thea: Cosmic Scales

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Apparently there were some unwanted visitors during the Festival of the Goat: robbers. As if it wasn't hard enough to get resources already. The "Wolf Pack" (Wolfy's team) is sent after them immediately and assassinates all them easily. They then go to the gold mine Thorgrim mentioned and encounter a treasurer goblin. Instead of just stealing his things and being robbers themselves, they just talk it into sharing.

Probably would have shared with the robbers too, if they just asked first.

The expedition proceeds to the place Theodore mentioned and there they find bones of an elf, along with documents that point to two more locations to explore - the first being the home of an old professor. The man tells them that the Cosmic Tree, which used to keep the balance, is dead. He should know - he killed it. In this way eventually civilization will be free of superstition, magic and monsters and will be governed only by reason and knowledge. To hell with the number of things that will die in the interim.

Alas, there is no justice to be found here as the professor simply shoos the Wolf pack out after their conversation. Before they can even draw their weapons, he and his entire tower vanish into the sky. What is this, an episode of Flying House?

Friday, 25 March 2016

Thea: News of the World

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While the expedition is out looting stashes and fighting "Spor" (large talking snakes), the village gets a lot of visitors during the Festival of the Goat. Some old guys called the Dziody come to the party and teach Cooper some folklore, and a trio of knights Ald Firstshot, Atheren, and Schulz Wenzel arrive - confirming the eclipse was more far reaching than initially thought.

A familiar dwarf also comes later on: Thorgrim, having escaped Riva himself after the judge Bosper Jarnug decided to execute anyone that helped or had connections to the team during their time there. Not only did he hang Stipen and Yann, he made an alliance with the pirates and slaughtered all members of the Guild. "Do you have any good news?" quipped Talarian, to which Thorgrim nodded. He had come across an abandoned gold mine on the way over. That lifts spirits somewhat.

Lastly, the village is visited by the demon Theodore. He is impressed with what they've managed to achieve and tasks the people to cure the land from the shadowy darkness that has befallen it. He provides a location to start the quest and once more vanishes, leaving Hermit's Lake to do the heavy lifting. That's just typical.

Obviously I can't do it: who else will sit on all these tree stumps!?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thea: Character Building

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

As a parting gift before he leaves the area, Theodore also mentions the location of a nearby dungeon the team might find supplies in. Instead they find a plague ghost who has imprisoned himself as to not spread the disease. The only way to fix him is if the team lets him grope someone. Wolfy shrugs and lets him cop a feel, it's not like its the first time that's happened anyway. The team learns from another adventuring group about a nearby herbalist which should be handy should anyone get poisoned or diseased.

They then busy themselves with poisoning the various vermin nests in the surrounding areas, slaying spiders, rats, bats, bees, ravens and the like. While doing so, they come across a werewolf agonizingly "character building" atop a shrine made of silver. While its tempting to slay him while he is weak, Heather Bee persuades him to share some of the silver instead to which the wolf man agrees.

Love the smart arse response.

Back at Hermit's Lake, Talarian has taken charge of constructing and improving the little settlement. It helps that two of the children grow up to be something useful: Cateaclysmic the worker and Missy Sparks, the warrior. Missy gets to see action right away as she has to help defend the village against crazed bees, an action undertaken with sword and pitchfork apparently. Regardless the bees are slain and the village is saved.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Thea: The Eclipse

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

After a long journey, Wolfy had led Darth, Cooper, Braxwolf, Talarian and Mama Cori to a place where she figured the soldiers of Riva would not find them: Hermit's lake, where the role of hermit had now passed on to Curian - who was still hoping to find his unicorn. He didn't live alone though. In the little hamlet he now housed child orphans from the various wars, a retired soldier named Heather Bee as well as two sisters Wolfy recognized: Korima the warrior and Harika the one eyed thief, who was also on the run after managing to lose her sizable amount of loot at gambling.

They had only been there a few days passed when suddenly the sun darkened through means of an unnatural eclipse, and during that time the world around them changed for the worse. Mama Cori was unsure for how long the sun remained dark, but when the first greyish rays of light began to filter through, it was decided an expedition be sent out to discover the mystery of the darkness.

Those houses are tiny compared to the people! :P

This party, composed of Braxwolf, Mama Cori, Curian, Heather Bee, Darth and led by Wolfy decided to first make their way to a nearby ruined tower where they encountered a bearded demon named Theodore. The little bastard tasks the team with menial duties such as boar hunting, vegetable growing, structure building, and retrieving gold from a demon buddy of his, who is of the cuter Hohlick variety.

Rat-poodle Fairy?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

MMO Agenda: Do you quit at max level?

[Part of my MMO Design folder.]

Simple question today, and one that most MMO devs assume the answer is "Yes" hence the hamster wheel for experience or items. I just want to see if they are correct. After working hard to level up your character to become the most powerful he or she can be, do you then quit the game or would having a god like character actually keep you playing?

"Absolute strength is boring."
Saitama (One Punch Man) art by Lee Woo-Chul

I don't know, I think absolute strength would be fricking amazing. At least I'd get my dailies done faster, and maybe I'd even try the other content I'd usually avoid due to it being too long or too annoying. If I had a character that can one hit Tiamat, I'd definitely play Neverwinter Online a lot more, not a lot less - especially if more updates kept coming in, without any more hamster wheels to run.

What about you? Do you end or reset the experience as soon as the game no longer poses a challenge?

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Last Witch Hunter

By iron and fire!

Vin Diesel cannot die. Not just because he's the hero, but because he is "cursed". Man, I wouldn't mind having a curse like that! Through the centuries he's been keeping the witch population in check. Violently.

Thankfully the curse, while gimmicky, actually works into the story somewhat, and it's good to see a whole bunch of familiar faces as the supporting cast: the likes of Michael Caine, Frodo Elijah Wood, and Ygritte "You know nothing, Jon Snow" Rose Leslie.

Flaming swords are cool!

Effects and action wise is really good too, with a particularly interesting take on a bone golem. Amazingly there are more plot holes here than in Terminator: Genisys, but again it's a fun ride and surprisingly one I wouldn't mind watching again. I give it three flaming swords out of five.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Terminator: Genisys

He's back. Again.

This is what happens when the protagonists of the first terminator movie become genre savvy. As expected in the one-up-manship game of time travel, an event occurs to alter the time line and finally break the chain of "fate" that all the previous movies had followed.

Fans are treated to some pieces of Terminator 1 and 2 in the first third/half of the movie and I don't mind Danaerys Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, nor Varro Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Arnie is still spouting his one liners which I quite enjoy. I do question the casting of John Connor, but he's passable enough.

Absolutely Terminating.

Action and effects wise everything is great, though I feel they went a little overboard with the number and types of chase sequences in the movie... like helicopter vs helicopter, really? Also there's a lot of shooting projectors near the end which I found equally silly. Still it's worth at least one watch for action fans and I give it three time machines out of five.

Just not sure where the franchise is going to go from here, but hey - anything is possible with time machines!

Friday, 18 March 2016

NWO: Eldarth's First Three

[Part of Odd Jobs of Neverwinter.

Been playing more of Eldarth's Foundry quests lately and boy they sure inspire me to create stuff again. Here are three of the ones I ran... :)

Old Magic

Sage Ramiel has tasked you to assist him in finding traces of "Old Magic" in the orc overrun Tower District. Just how overrun it is depends on your choice at the start though with an interesting difficulty setter. Interesting to note that the enemies here respawn indefinitely which can make this benign "fetch quest" a bit of a hassle!

Also on display once more is his creative method of having indoor areas on an outdoor map. For non-foundry people, this means transitions between the two without a loading screen; something not easily done by mere mortals! Definitely worth a play through though it's worth bringing a fast mount for all the back and forth.

Calimport Arena

While visiting the distant land of Calimport, you are tricked (rather easily) into showing your prowess at the arena. While I don't quite like the story in this one, given I couldn't kill all the people I wanted to, it's still a very impressive and very visual quest. The zone seems entirely made from scratch and is beautifully designed, as are the awesome effects during the arena battle. It also looks like Eldarth was experimenting with currency exchange in this one.

Built from scratch!

For those not big on story, you can skip a lot of the optional conversation though and just head in to get your combat on. :)

Under Siege!

You must help defend a dwarven keep in the mountains is under siege by Winter forged forces. In typical Eldarth fashion, the keep, special effects and NPC costumes are great. Strangely there's very little fighting in it which is a bit of a downer as I left feeling the dwarves would have had everything under control. Also one of the ice giant engineers with ridiculously short arms never actually leaves / is killed after the siege is over. A little odd given the care given to the rest of the map.

So much detail...

Still a pretty place to visit, just don't expect much action.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Internship

It might make you Google "Googliness".

When their regular sales gig falls through, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson decide to take an internship at Google to try get their lives back on track, aiming to land a job at the prestigious company (which if all was even is a 5% chance). Having the two non-techie guys totally misinterpret stuff is funny to a degree, as are some of the characters they end teaming up with. Ok, just the asian guy.

Do people really do this?

There are also cameo comedians ham up their very low brow, toilet type jokes and there's an unexpected sequence at a strip club (with nudity of course)! While the comedy was hit and miss for me, the showcasing of the company grounds (which may or may not have actually been Google) was pretty cool, as were the tasks the interns had to take on - though I probably could have done without a live action Quidditch match.

Story wise and acting wise, its an ok story with a number of funny moments. It didn't have me in stiches though and I don't want watch it again. I give it two thumbs up out of five.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Riva: Screwed

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Thanks to the late hour the team has a really easy time infiltrating the castle, avoiding guards and dealing with a handful of sleeping ones in a non-lethal fashion. Eventually they come across the torture chamber where they find one of the wizards they are meant to rescue strapped on the rack. Wolfy doesn't hesitate to lead the attack.

What sort of wizard gets captured anyway?

While the fight itself is easy, the problem comes after due to a read error/bad file. Story wise, I suppose this wizard is dead, so the party has no choice but to try find the others and sure enough there are locked doors present they don't have keys to. "Well someone must have them!" exclaimed Talarian, and so began the mass murdering of every living soul in the castle.

Alas, against all logic - no one had the key(s) and as the dawn approached the team retreated back into the sewers with as much loot as they could carry from the treasure room and armory. Using the tunnel that lead beyond the walls they then escaped into the woods to try their fortune elsewhere, leaving Judge Bosper Jarnug's reputation of screwing his enemies intact and another victory under his belt.

Pity that Riva comes to a close on this game breaking bug, but I'm sure this is not the end of the story.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Riva: Moon River

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Mama Cori had just teleported across via magic mirror into a strange room when Mandara ambushed the rest of the party, immediately knocking them out (no combat, guess they didn't stand a chance).  The Feylamia then came for Mama Cori, but since she had all the proper items equipped basically incinerated Mandara on the spot with her moon lantern.

Everyone else got beat up!

With the monster dead, Cori dragged the rest of her team back to the Guild HQ to recover. During the two days it takes to rest up, the Trademaster gives them information that other travelers - a party of mages - was arrested not long ago and taken to the castle for interrogation. Believing these mages to be potential allies, the team is sent out to rescue them.

Conveniently the Guild had found a secret, watery path from Mandara's chambers that leads into the castle walls. The only problem was there was a water dragon who made his home in that passage, and since that entire fight takes place on a raft it is left up to Cooper's archery to slay the beast while everyone else takes turns tanking.

That's a fat dragon.

The strategy pays off and soon the dragon (who is nowhere near as bad as Arkandor) is slain. With no time to waste they advance into the stairwell that leads them up into the castle.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Riva: Hunting the Fey

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While the Guild HQ in the old sewers serves as a place to get bedding, food and has a small armory to store things, the team is not allowed to simply use it for free. The Trademaster tasks them with first eliminating their greatest threat in the sewers: Mandara.

Apparently sucking people dry made her prettier?

As it happens, her lair was recently discovered nearby so the party makes their way over there. A set of grates blocks the initial entry so Talarian is left to hold the lever while the rest of the party advances. They only get a few paces in when they hear Talarian scream. Wolfy's ears twitch as she ...

Oh my!

Fortunately he's ok: Mandara just decided to kiss him. That's what he says while pulling up his pants awkwardly. :P

Anyway, Mandara likes messing with the party without actually attacking as they delve deeper into her home, which clearly was the base of whomever hunted her before since there are details on how exactly to kill a Feylamia. It's pretty much like a vampire, except she only feeds on elves.

Oh, and she has a weakness to moon light which begs the question: why is there a moon shard and a moon lantern found in her abode? And why does she attack at night? Stupid monster. There are other interesting decorations here too, like a portrait of a woman trying to "get out" of a painting with monstrous shapes behind her and mirrors that teleport people around when touched.

It is in one of those mirrors that Mandara attacks.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Riva: Accused

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

After curing Braxwolf of the numb skull illness he caught during the sea voyage, the party is apprehended by a number of guards and taken to the castle where they are charged by Judge Bosper Jarnug for the murder of Malnodir Elin! The sole witness is Gorm the grocer, who Wolfy tortured previously. Fortunately Gorm's testimony is so bogus, Bosper is forced to let the party go free.

Hey maybe he's a fair judge after all...

They take this time to purchase the gear they had to ditch in the sea, and to visit Thorgrim who again is just in his house (with his axe) and offers to rejoin the team. When Braxwolf asked how he escaped the pirate ambush, the dwarf simply replied "Coz I smelled a trap, you idjits!"

Thorgrim doesn't stay long though, because the very next day Tarik finds the party and warns them they are now wanted for the murder of Gorm the grocer! Thorgrim, being the awesome ally who the party literally saved from death, obviously stands by them through thick and thin.

Or not.

With the ungrateful dwarf gone, Tarik advises the party to go to the new Guild HQ in the deeper sewers because the guards won't be so inclined to let them go this time. With not much other choice the party retreats into the cesspool beneath the streets.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Today I Smiled: Font of Knowledge

Been ages since I've put up a Today I Smiled post, and today's one is to share all the strange and wacky stuff I've been learning about over the past few months, like the Babylonian's used a base 60 numeral system, or that there's an island that uses giant stones as currency, or that it takes the whole year's crop from one tree to make 450gms of chocolate. Yes, you can (mostly) blame Reddit! :P

Interested in conflict? Well here are two that might be of interest: The Syrian Civil War and the animated, lazery Norse Attack Map. Just be sure not to ridicule a person who refuses to duel in Mississippi. That's a misdemeanor!

In the event you do get into a fight, in might be better to lick your wounds than to get put into St. Luke's hospital, where they potentially can keep you (or your corpse) hostage indefinitely.

Also don't mess with the Russians, they have a knack for fixing mundane problems with nukes! That might lead to having cities with a population of zero. Or worse, with hoverboard zombies...

Only made worse with XCOM odds to hit! :P

But who needs zombies when there are giant centipedes and spiders that go fishing? I'm guessing the two women who jumped into the river to see which one their man would save (spoiler: he chose Rong) didn't know about those critters!

I've also come across nice art ... made with Microsoft Excel of all things as well as a bunch of doodles that summarize all of this season of the Walking Dead. There's also a hilarious synopsis maker who does the more recent episodes for Arrow, Flash, Vixen and Legends of Tomorrow! Might be worth taking a look if you want to catch up on the shows without actually watching them. :P

Speaking of art, I would be remiss if I didn't share with you at least one song - this one for all the Metal and Vanilla Ice fans, with Metal Ice Ice Baby (wut?). If you are more the type to appreciate the written word see here the Chinese story of Stone Lions composed entirely with the word "Shi" 101 times.

Lastly here's a clip called Ultimate Skyrim, which show cases what happens when one uses too many mods in the game. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Riva: Ocean Interlude

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

It is dusk when the party enters the tavern to meet with Malnodir Elin, the potential witness against  the evil judge. As soon as they enter they are knocked out and wake up bound and without any inventory items. This seems to happen a lot in this series. Also of note: Thorgrim is missing! There's no time to ponder on his fate though as the captors make their entry: pirates!

Apparently the team is now on board a ship and are being offered the chance to join the pirate crew (or die). Nice that these guys have a similar recruiting methodology with the Guild, proving both factions are moronic and should be eliminated. Anyway, the idiots leave the team alone to decide - giving them time to free themselves, break out of the bildge and explore the vessel.

A young kid named Yann joins the team early in the escape, claiming to have had enough of the pirates abuse. His knowledge of where things are proves valuable in collecting the party's missing gear, avoiding combat, navigating towards the stern, and escaping via rowboat.

That last part involved jumping into the sea though, and there was a somewhat painful sequence of each member slowly drowning while you decide what gear to discard. Retain too much weight and its insta-death time. Lots of plate armor was lost at this point, but at least the party survived and rowed back to the safety of Riva. Upon docking, Yann gave his thanks and his farewells, running off to his new found freedom.

Riva: Law & Order SVU

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

During the celebration the Holberkians present the party with yet another quest hook: a young Holberkian girl who claims she was "gifted" to the orcs a few weeks ago by a local grocer named Gorm. Thanks to the recently bought town map in their possession it doesn't take long at all to find his shop at which point Wolfy Eyes goes all Jack Bauer on the Elf Grocer.

Violence is always the solution!

Gorm reveals he was just the delivery method and that the actual "deal maker" was local judge Bosper Jarnug. While the judge outright denies this, the team does find out some dirt on the guy from local go-to info guy Tarik.

Apparently Bosper likes convicting innocent people (regardless of gender) who he fancies so that he can sleep with them. More interestingly is that he was very sick a while back to the point of being near death but somehow recovered despite all the healers claiming he was a goner.

Tarik says he will help the team by scheduling a meeting with Malnodir Elin, Bosper's ex who might have useful info against him. As an aside, Tarik also mentions that the "ghost" of the local watch tower is just a prank by "the guild" to keep people away from their headquarters. The party checks it out regardless and finds it to be pretty convincing!

At least she didn't mess her pants...

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

NWO: Tidal Redux #DS#

[Part of Odd Jobs of Neverwinter.

The third and final entry in the Drowned Shore Foundry contest is "Tidal Redux #DS#" by Torontodave. You wake up right after being hit by the tidal wave that decimated the area, but unlike in Eldarth's quest where you can go diving (with a horse no less), here you receive a water walking ability early on to stay above the waves. Later on you get to be -very high- above the waves just to challenge those with acrophobia. :P

Impossible engineering is cool. :P

In contrast to Drowned Shore Disembark #DS# and Sage Ramiel goes to War #DS# which throw you into action right away, Tidal Redux has a much slower start of tending to survivors and such before going on the offensive against the Cult of the Crushing Wave - who in this reimagining are more fish folk like.  

One area Torontodave beats Eldarth in, at least for me in this instance, is his ability to hide Easter Eggs though. This is a true explorer's joy in finding all five eggs he has hidden across the map. There might not be any prizes in doing so, but it's worth testing your skill if that's your kinda thing. All up, this is a solid entry and a good map which is definitely worth a play through!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

NWO: Sage Ramiel goes to War #DS#

[Part of the Odd Jobs of Neverwinter.

Finally, the actual Drowned Shore Foundry contest is underway (though months late), and I can't help but feel regret for not participating. Still, the next best thing is to play the few entries that did get submitted, and since I already ran Drowned Shore Disembark #DS# last time, next up is "Sage Ramiel goes to War #DS#" by foundry master Eldarth.

His attention to detail and somehow making indoor sections from outdoor maps are fantastic, and the same can be said for his reworked paths to get around all the invisible walls that litter the regular maps. There's a fair bit of gravity altered underwater spelunking to be had here too as the Drowned Shore certainly lives up to its name.

Look at all the special effects!

Story wise, you enter the Drowned Shore after the Cult of the Crushing Wave have laid waste to it with a massive tidal wave from their iceberg base that has sent ships and other debris in land. Sage Ramiel (Eldarth's go-to character) has set up base at the local lighthouse and needs your help in driving them back.

Apart from one, unfinished NPC in the last area there are no real negatives to this foundry creation and I highly recommend it to everyone as a good break from your regular, weekly grind.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Riva: Artful Device

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

After drinking a lot of health pots the party ventures deeper on the fourth floor until they find a strange chamber with a mosaic. A troll attacks them here but upon defeating it, it changes form into that of an elf. Wolfy recognizes him to be the scum they helped free from the orc fort long ago!

Lord of Ants and Rats...? :P

This encounter is actually pretty cool, because it's basically a "solve the mosaic" puzzle but with a timer, and after every [x] amount of time the shape shifter attacks using a different form. Too bad for him, his elf lord and knight shapes were easily handled. Solving the picture somehow kills him for good, and activates a strange sarcophagus at the mosaic's base.

I like switchy tile puzzles!

With no other dead character in the line up, they decide to throw Thorgrim in and lo and behold - he comes back to life! Sort of. Apparently he's still petrified? Having at last, finished with the tower the team heads back to Riva to report the good news and to celebrate! Oh, and to unpetrify Thorgrim fully thanks to the healer - this costs a fair bit of ducats. The Holberkian's literally throw a feast in their honor for saving their dogs who somehow made it back on their own across the river... Awesome.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Riva: Round Two

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While in town to buy missile weapons (after fleeing from the tower) the team recruit the barbarianess Mama Cori and warrior Talarian Design to fill out the roster, dropping what's left of Allison and Dalian with the Temple of Ben Kingsley. Since no replacement for Thorgrim (NPC party slot only) is found, his corpse continues to be dragged around which is kinda strange in that it helps carry things.

Anyway, now armed properly the team returns to the tower and with Mama Cori acting as "winch person" (staying behind to operate the lift: the politically correct verion) they return to the slab that blocked their return on level 2 which happens to be easily openable from the entry side. It simply closes again when the party passes through - trapping them again. If that was designed to piss people off, it's doing a good job.

They find the gnoll making mage and his new gnolls right where they left him. This time everyone focuses fire on him first, and Cooper manages to land an arrow right into the mage's face: killing him instantly. The rest of his creations are easily dealt with afterwards, and it turns out they were guarding the next stairs up.

You look familiar...

There on level four, a familiar wizard awaited. Toranor!? AGAIN? This time he also summoned ghouls to the fight, and cast terror spells which sent all the party fleeing. All but Cooper, who got knocked out by ghouls (continuing his running gag with them), and Talarian who ended up soloing the entire encounter and with 4 hit points left - somehow won! Not bad for a first day on the job.

Riva: Oh Gnolls!

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

The elevator is manually operated so Cooper Mantly stays behind as the "winch man" while the rest of the party advances to next floor, which is inhabited by undead of all sorts. Predominantly skeletons with various gems socketed in their eyes that are then used to open puzzle doors.


Around half-way through a heavy slab falls behind the team, blocking any option of escape so they simply push through the undead, finding stairs up to level three which features really long and empty corridors, for good reason too. Half of them are illusions!

Saving throw: success!

Finally the party finds a laboratory where another wizard is assembling... gnolls? So that's what the dogs were for. Without hesitation the team enters combat against the dog-men and the magician, with Dalian charging straight for the spell caster only to make a horrible discovery.

Dog men sure look like gnolls to me.

The heptagram the mage is standing in shields him from all melee. Also, he's not so much a mage - he's a TURRET with unending magic! In just three rounds Dalian gets blown into pieces and the rest of the team, without a single ranged weapon or ability, are forced to retreat.

Badly injured and ill equipped for this fight, there is no option but to return to town - using the only exits available from the tower: they jump out the illusionary halls and land painfully back in the garden.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Riva: Toranor

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Pushing on into the wizard's garden, the party encounter (and kills) the steward whose sole purpose seemed to reveal his master's name: Toranor. After harvesting all of Toranor's herbs it's time to enter the main tower itself and the party hits a roadblock in the form of a double locked door!

I hate being defeated by doors...

There's no recourse but to back track all the way to the city to purchase more lockpicks, and they get the local healer to cure Allison of rabies while they are at it. Upon their return they finally open the door and in the very first room run into... Toranor!?

The wizard isn't happy with the intruders and puts up a massive fight, turning both Allison and Thorgrim into statues while badly wounding the rest of the team. Finally, Darth Targetter manages to kill him - just like Vader vs Kenobi, only with less light sabers.

The rest of the floor is only inhabited by a small crew of rogues who are easily beaten, and is packed with various supplies. It doesn't take the party long to find an elevator up though.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Riva: Dog Gone

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

While on the way to the inn the party comes across an angry mob mistreating a Holberkian (half-orc). That seems to be the racist segregation here where as in Star Trail, people didn't like elves. Thinking on her feet, Allison comes up with a good diversion to save the poor sod named Ordo.

She then sends the mob after her make-believe "orc attackers"...

Upon escorting him back home safely, they are rewarded with a quest hook: a nearby wizard has been abducting pet dogs to use in nefarious experiments in his tower. Not sure how he knows this, other than the wizard flat out telling him, laughing manically and then teleporting away.

It's still a more solid lead than anything they have with the recent murders so it's an easy choice to go after the wizard first. After a quick boat trip across the flooded river they reach the swamp where the wizard is said to live. Allison's high tracking skill helps pin point the path to his tower though it still leads them through swarms of giant EXP draining mosquitoes and mobs of swamp rantzys!

Fortunately the team has no issues dealing with the green monkeys this time around, and eventually come to the wizard's small fortress, the main door to which is unopenable. Fortunately, there's a rotting wooden door at the back that provides entry to the kennels, and the party immediately sets all the captured dogs free. A few feral ones needed to be put down though, and one of those manages to bite Allison.